Wednesday, May 1, 2013

John R. Rice and KJV Only

KJV Only is the relatively modern belief that the King James Version of the Bible is the only one that should be used by English speaking people. There are different versions, if you will, of this view. Some believe the KJV itself is inspired, perfect, and inerrant. Others would simply say it is by far the best and other English translations are in error, liberal, leave out the Word of God, or they are even of the devil.

Many have wondered what Dr. John R. Rice (AD 1895-1980), a well-known independent Baptist preacher, author, and founding editor of the Sword of the Lord, had to say about KJV Only. Some have wrongly assumed he was KJV Only.

Rice did use the KJV in the pulpit. It was obviously his favorite translation. And it should be remembered he was writing in 1969 when the KJV was by far the most popular and a number of the modern versions of today had not yet been translated. But Dr. Rice was far from KJV Only. In addition to the quotes below, during his leadership, Rice had others such as Robert L. Sumner write articles in the Sword of the Lord against KJV Only.

The quotes below are from -
Our God-Breathed Book The Bible
by John R. Rice, Sword of the Lord Publishers, Murfreesboro, TN; 1969.

“When we say that the Bible is inspired, we do not refer to the translations or copies but to the original autographs, written down under God’s direction.”

“We think now not of translations and copies but of the original autographs. Of them we are told that “…every word…proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew4:4). So all must be true. If the Scriptures are God-breathed, theopneustos, as II Timothy 3:16 says, then God did not breathe out errors and mistakes.”

“We are not now discussing the translations. Translators are not inspired, and there can be mistakes in translation although these mistakes are largely overcome by having translations checked and double checked by numerous godly scholars. There may be mistakes in copying, though such mistakes can usually be found by comparing manuscripts with manuscripts since there are hundreds of manuscripts of the New Testament available and many of the Old Testament. But when we speak of inspiration, we speak of the original autographs written down in the Old Testament in Hebrew, except for a small part of the book of Daniel which is in Chaldaic, and the New Testament, which is in koine Greek.”

“Well, there are many, many translations. The differences in the translations are so minor, so insignificant, that we can be sure not a single doctrine, not a single statement of fact, not a single command or exhortation, has been missed in our translations. And where the Word of God is not perfectly translated in one instance, it is corrected in another translation. And if the Word of God is not perfectly portrayed in one translation, it is portrayed, surely, in the winnowed sum of them all. And besides, one can go back to the original Greek and Hebrew texts to check for himself the translations. Or those who do not know Hebrew and Greek may use Young’s Analytical Concordance. There you will find in every single case the original Greek or Hebrew word, find how it is used, and thus can check the translations.”

“A perfect translation of the Bible is humanly impossible. The words in one language do not have exactly the same color and meaning as the opposite words in another language, and human frailty and imperfection enter in. So, let us say, there are no perfect translations. God does not inspire particular translations, although He may illuminate and give spiritual wisdom to the translator.”

“The translators of the American Standard Version had the advantage of having access to the three oldest manuscripts with which we are familiar - the Vatican, the Alexandrian, and the Sinaitic manuscripts.”

“The scholar and the preacher would do well to have the American Standard Version at hand and to consult it when necessary, but generally would do well, we think, to use the King James Version in the pulpit, in memory work, and in class teaching, since it is actually the translation of the mass of people. And the beauty of its language is not equaled in other translations, we think.”
-John R. Rice, Our God-Breathed Book The Bible, Sword of the Lord Publishers, Murfreesboro, TN; 1969.

-David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, May 1, AD 2013.

John R. Rice and the Sword of the Lord; Part 1

B. H. Carroll on Inspiration of Bible
The Girl Who Saved His Ministry
Other articles in lower right margin.


  1. Brother David, I am curious is you know of the evolution of the Sword of the Lord view on the Bible, that is, what course it took. My parents were long time subscribers and I am familiar with Rice's view. It is my understanding that Rice hand-picked Curtis Hutson as his successor. I would think he would have agreed with Rice, but I seem to remember that Hutson took something of a KJVO position, and does his successor, Sheldon Smith.

  2. R. L. Vaughn,

    I think they began going KJV Only during the editorship of Curtis Hutson. It definitely did not happen during the time of John R. Rice. And many would say the Sword of the Lord has gone in directions Rice would not have agreed with.

    The Sword of the Lord is definitely KJV Only (at least on variety of KJV Only) today. Their website says,

    “WE BELIEVE the Bible, the Scriptures of the Old Testament and the New Testament, preserved for us in the Masoretic text (Old Testament) Textus Receptus (New Testament) and in the King James Bible, is verbally and plenarily inspired of God.”

    I may get a little more information later. If so, I’ll post it here.
    David R. Brumbelow

  3. I've found further confirmation that the Sword of the Lord went to the view of KJV Only when Curtis Hutson became editor.

    The new KJV Only position was then continued when Sheldon Smith became editor of the Sword of the Lord.
    David R. Brumbelow

  4. Thanks for the information. It seems a little odd to me that John R. Rice would have picked someone with a different view on the Bible, but perhaps he did not think it was that much different. Wasn't Robert L. Sumner an assistant editor or something like that at one time? I remember from articles I read in the Sword that he took basically the same position as Rice on the Bible versions issue.

  5. My thought would be that John R. Rice had no idea that Curtis Hutson would take the Sword of the Lord in the KJV Only direction. It should probably also be remembered that Rice was in poor health at the time of the transition.

    Yes, Robert L. Sumner was assistant editor of the Sword of the Lord with John R. Rice. Sumner wrote articles in the Sword against KJV Only, when Rice was editor. Of course, Sumner and Rice had the same view, strongly against KJV Only.

    R. L. Sumner is now, and has been for years, editor of The Biblical Evangelist. A link to it is found in the right margin here at Gulf Coast Pastor. I’d recommend everyone, and especially pastors, to subscribe to it. I think they would find it very valuable.

    Sumner has a booklet on this subject, “Bible Translations,” for $2.50:

    David R. Brumbelow

  6. Does anyone know if we coulsd somehow get a doctrinal statement of the SOTL, that Dr. Rice put out that we could compare with the SOTL had now? It would also be neat to get hold of a copy of the statement that those who worked with SOTL Foundation during Dr Rice's ministry had to sign each year.

    M. Crowder

    1. Marty,
      I know a couple of folks are checking on it.

      It would be interesting to see the Sword of the Lord Doctrinal Statements on the Bible, during Dr. Rice's day, and today - and see how they may have changed.

      When something comes up, I'll be glad to post it here.
      David R. Brumbelow


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